Working Mothers in Rural India

Pattabi Raman
Pattabi Raman’s photo essay on working mothers in parts of rural India illuminates the challenges and struggles many working mothers around the world face, and highlights issues that are specific to women in parts of rural India, such as the threat of displacement due to industrialization.
Along the Narmada: A tribal mother living in a makeshift house along the banks of the Along the Narmada: A tribal mother living in a makeshift house along the banks of the Narmada River in India. The controversial proposed construction of the Narmada Dam threatens her, along with thousands of others, with displacement.
© Pattabi Raman


As India's urban population has exceeded the rural population for the first time in history, I decided to work on a long-term photography project on Rural India. This photo series, Working Mothers in Rural India, is a portrayal of women in rural India who fulfill the dual roles of mother and financial breadwinner for their family.

Overall, rural Indian women make up 22.7% of the labor force. Amidst great levels of industrialization and growth, the rural sectors of India suffer neglect. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for the rural population—in fact, nearly 90 percent of women working in rural India do so in the agriculture or allied industrial sectors. Despite the fact that many women are the primary breadwinners, a woman's daily wages average just half as much as a man's, though men and women work equal hours.

Many working women in rural India have tremendous workloads, as they are responsible for farm or agricultural as well as household production.

About The Artist 

Pattabi Raman is a biologist-turned-photojournalist based in Pondicherry, India. He works as a photographer for The New Indian Express, a national newspaper. As a photojournalist, Pattabi specializes in socio-economic, socio-cultural, and environment issues. He is the recipient of several awards, including a Junior Fellowship for Photography from the Ministry of Culture (Government of India); a 2010 Media Fellowship from the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi; 3rd Prize at the Venice International Photo Contest (2007); and others. He is currently working on a long-term project about the aftermath of the Sri Lankan war.